Artiste (s):- Bracket
Record Label:- Bracket Records
Distributed By:- I-Tunes and Spinlet
Guest Appearances:- Timaya, Phyno, Tekno, Flavour, DJ Arafat, Cynthia Morgan, Diamond, And Tiwa Savage
Producers:- Masterkraft, Selebobo, Mecca E, Freelance, Tekno And J-Stunt
Release Date:- July 20th 2015
Personally I feel like Bracket ( Smash and Vast ) are grossly underrated. Since they made their debut on the music scene in 2006 with the national smash hit Happy Day, their music or star quality has never suffered a decline but has been on an ascent ever since. After the first album, they parted ways with the 3rd man in the group Mr Bistop who was reputed to be the most talented of all three and have gone on to release three more albums Least Expected ( 2009 ), Cupid Stories ( 2011 ) and Alive which was dropped in July this year, an 18-track project which shows their growth, versatility, adaptability and staying power which has been done all with minimal media exposure, low promotion and different tribulations which they have experienced as a group.
They took 4 years off after releasing their last album due one half of the group Vast being diagnosed with cancer of the blood ( Lymphoma ) in 2011, upon commencement of treatment, he became cancer free in 2013, reunited with Smash and together they began crafting their fourth studio effort and decided to title the album aptly to reflect the recovery of Vast from a sickness which is well known to have a high fatality rate. The album immediately opens up with Iyeri, a love song which was produced by Selebobo and was laced with his signature lush drum patterns, giving them the appropriate sonic cushion to serenade the ladies ( a craft which they are quite adept at ) thus creating a fitting opening to the album. Next song Ego which already has a remix that features Olamide comes next, borrows the contemporary highlife sound and had them detailing the good things that Money brings, It’s a proper song which will appeal to their core audience, just as the remix will appeal to the south-west regions of Nigeria. The next song My Dear is not exactly their best song, but it’s a nice mid-tempo romantic ballad which a lot of their predominantly female fanbase will appreciate. The first guest on the album Timaya shows up on the next track Celebrate and though lately I have been a bit taken aback by his performances on collaborations, I was totally impressed by his performance on this one as he delivered his signature performance over the Masterkraft produced instrumental, stealing the show in the process ( they should shoot a video for this one next ). the album makes a smooth transition to the next song Comfort and sees them return to their highlife roots, and go on to describe the qualities which the girl whom the song was name after possesses, I feel this is one of the top 5 songs on this album that ladies would love the most ( especially those that understand The Igbo language ). The previously released Bartender Featuring Phyno is an enjoyable ode to inebriation while Baby Mu is a, more mellow romantic ballad tailored to suit teeny lovers and older married couples. The next tune Panya featuring Tekno is one of the strongest Afro-pop songs on the album and it’s performance on the charts and Youtube prove that Bracket can still make relevant pop tunes that can cut across different musical tastes and do it well too.
Egbe Belu is a duet with good friend of the duo Flavour who added a lot more gusto to the song which will be well appreciated by music lovers in Eastern Nigeria. The sound of the album switches to a Coupe-Decale inspired vibe on the next song Soko which featured Ivorian pop star DJ Arafat, this one was inspired to appeal to the francophone audience in Africa and sounds like it works just right. When I saw Cynthia Morgan on the tracklist, I was wondering how she would be able to blend her brand of Reggae music to fit the type of music that Bracket makes, but she didn’t disappoint on the next song Far Away, a heart-rending slow reggae vibe which had all three of them “mourning” a love lost, and also they created one of the best songs on the album with this one, not only did Bracket show that they can also add the Reggae influence to their music, but Cynthia also proved that she can vocalize and stretch her voice well when singing over a slow groove just like she did on one of her new singles Simanti Niya. Odili is an inspirational traditional Igbo prayer which was rendered in a musical format and Nana is a sure-fire hit song that has a video which has racked up over a million views on Youtube already.
The next song Idim N’obi is nothing more that an album filler nonetheless an impressive one,While the title track Alive is a song of praise to God for saving Vast from a near death experience ( The cancer diagnosis I mentioned earlier ) and giving him a second chance Tiwa Savage And Diamond complimented the song just good. They take it to the dancefloor with the next song Oringo which to me is another album filler and deliver another one for their Francophone fanbase with Tous Jour. The last song on the album Mama Africa is actually the biggest song on the album and has already spread like wildfire, having amassed over 14 Million youtube views it’s safe to say they simply saved the best song on the album for last.
Apart from P-Square, no other Nigerian duo has achieved more than Bracket in modern contemporary music. They have managed to bridge the gap between their Nigerian fanbases, as well as their Francophone, East African and international audiences and have done a commendable job three albums deep, but regarding this project, they have shown growth, adaptability and an ability to connect with the younger generation of producers ( Selebobo , Tekno ) and artistes ( Cynthia Morgan , Tekno ) to create outstanding music.While the predominant topic on the album is “love”, they find different ways to visit and present the subject without sounding too monotonous, they also explore new sounds ( Far Away ), new topics ( Alive ) and emotions ( Odili ) which they didn’t on their last two projects, the result is an exciting musical experience.This album is their most musically diverse till date and solidifies their legacies as legitimate artistes who still have a lot of music in them to dish out.
Standout Track:- Mama Africa
Musical Moment:- I feel like they brought out the best from all the featured guests, that only happens when an artiste is really good.
Album Rating:- 8/10